Emergence of Affective Neuroscience

The unraveling of the neurochemistries of basic emotional, motivational, and attentional processes of the mammalian brain (Panksepp, 1998a) is providing many novel brain targets for psychiatric drug development (McLay et al., 2001; Panksepp, 1993). Our belief is that a neuroethological analysis of the natural (instinctual) emotional behaviors of animals provides the best overall strategy for decoding how emotional feelings are organized in the brain (e.g., Knutson et al., 2002; Panksepp, 1998a). There is robust evidence for the working hypothesis that affective consciousness emerges from subcortical neurodynamics for instinctual emotional tendencies that mediate "intentions in action" (Panksepp, 2000, 2003a). Affective consciousness appears to be built fundamentally on the primitive neural systems of the brain that mediate homeostatic and emotional adjustments (Damasio et al., 2000; Panksepp, 1998a, 2000, 2003a). By drawing predictive relationships between the neurobiological vectors that regulate such emotional behaviors in our animal models and comparable feeling states in humans (Panksepp, 1999), the primal sources of human emotional feelings can be abstracted from and validated against the evidence emerging from preclinical work on other animals.

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